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|| News Item: Posted 2011-10-14

INTERN DIARIES: The Seattle Times
A tale of two cities

By Joel Hawksley, Ohio University

Photo by Joel Hawksley / The Seattle Times

Photo by Joel Hawksley / The Seattle Times

Seattle left fielder #56 Greg Halman warms up before batting during the Mariners' game against the Rangers at Safeco Field in Seattle on Thursday, July 14, 2011.
For the past two summers I have had the privilege of interning at two incredible newspapers, The Grand Rapids Press in 2010 and The Seattle Times this year. Last summer, I wrote about my experience in Michigan for Intern Diaries. My experience at The Seattle Times this summer built on what I learned in Grand Rapids.

When applied for the internship at The Times, I knew it was a long shot. I found out about the deadline the day before applications were due. Luckily for me, I had a portfolio ready to go, and was able to email/FTP my portfolio. Two and a half months later, I got a call from Kevin Fujii, and after an interview, was offered the internship.

The best part of the internship was working with the rest of the staff. On my first day on the job, I met staff photographer Erika Schultz, who would become my mentor for the summer. She helped me find a few projects to work on that the paper could use, which was a huge help.

It's difficult to land in a new city and start finding great photo ideas right away, let alone things that hadn't already been covered by the paper in the past. Photo editor Fred Nelson provided invaluable advice almost daily when it came to approaching my assignments. He made sure that I was prepared for whatever I had coming, whether it was knowing the best route to beat the afternoon traffic home from an shoot or strategies for working with the Seattle Police Department.

Barry Fitzsimmons, the Director of Photography, helped me edit some of my larger assignments. He also sent me on two of my favorite assignments of the summer, multi-day excursions out into the state of Washington.

About a month into my internship, I was assigned to cover the Rainbow Family Gathering, a congregation of 20,000 hippies at Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I was given three days for the project, two of which I spent shooting.

My first reaction upon getting the assignment was shock; I had never expected going into the internship that I would be doing large-scale work, let alone traveling hundreds of miles for a shoot. Little did I know it wouldn't be the last travel assignment of my summer.

Photo by Joel Hawksley / The Seattle Times

Photo by Joel Hawksley / The Seattle Times

Food is delivered to the main circle before dinner from the numerous kitchens at Family of Living Light gathering in Gifford Pinchot National Forest on Friday, July 1, 2011.
A couple weeks after coming back from the Rainbow Gathering, we started having meetings about the new travel section, NW Traveler, and how we were going to approach the visuals strategy for the product. For my trip, I was sent to Leavenworth, Cashmere, and Wenatchee for three assignments. My main assignment was simple: capture the "sense of place" of Cashmere. I ended up spending three days in the area, learning about the local culture and environment.

Looking back, I really learned to look for meaning in what I shoot. I traditionally viewed my images in an aesthetic and emotional manner, but did little to consider what they would mean to readers and how they could be interpreted in different ways depending on who was looking at them. Professionally, I feel that I grew the most in my approach to shooting features, which is definitely my weakest skill. I had a few occasions to shoot alongside the other staffers, and it really helped me understand how to work in certain situations to make the best possible image that tells the story of the assignment.

Between my time in Seattle and Grand Rapids, I have learned a lot about life in the newspaper industry. After hearing countless stories of doom and gloom, it has been incredibly inspiring to work with people who still hold themselves to the highest journalistic standards. the newspaper industry. After hearing countless stories of doom and gloom, it has been incredibly inspiring to work with people who still hold themselves to the highest journalistic standards.

In Grand Rapids, I learned how to approach daily assignment work, shooting a handful of assignments most days. I developed an efficient approach to my shooting and workflow, which allowed me to spend as much time as possible on each assignment. In Seattle, I had more time to focus on each assignment, something I didn't take for granted after my time in Michigan.

All of my experiences I have been afforded so far have built on one another, and my time at the two papers is no exception. I know for a fact that I never could have survived in Seattle if not for what I learned from the staff at The Press.

The experiences I've had as a student intern have taught me lessons I could never learn in school. I consider it a great privilege to be able to work with the people I have come to know in this industry, and can only hope to learn even more from my future internship experiences.

Joel Hawksley is a senior year at Ohio University pursuing a degree in visual communication with a focus in photojournalism. Joel works as chief photographer for Bobcat Athletics and the Ohio University Marching 110. His work can be viewed at his member page: and at

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